“He…knelt down and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.’ Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.”
~ Luke 22:41-44 NLT
It happened during my morning jog.
Gripping my cell phone, I headed out the door in my best attempt to exercise. I used to run regularly, albeit I was super slow. Knowing the benefits of my routine often pushed me to keep up the habit, especially because a boost of energy was supposed to follow.
Only it didn’t.
In the beginning months of 2015, my jogs had dwindled into a fast walk with a hop—and on this particular morning, I couldn’t even muster up the hop part. Being the bullheaded blonde that I am, I pushed on until my phone slid from my fingers. Suddenly dizzy, I fumbled while bending down and ended up slumped on the concrete.
Something was horribly wrong.
I phoned my husband for help, and once we were home, we researched my symptoms:
Fatigue, dizziness, labored breathing
Ugh. Everything pointed to heart failure.
A day later, my cardiologist confirmed our fears. My mitral value moderately leaked (which was concerning), but my aortic valve leaked severely. For those who don’t know, this meant my valve failed to seal properly after my heart attempted to beat. This caused the blood to regurgitate backwards, which in turn enlarged my heart.
In essence, I needed a new aortic valve ASAP.
Given my medical history, my cardiologist kindly refused to operate on me. He tried reassuring me that there was a top aortic surgeon in New York City who specialized in high risk cases like mine. And after one phone call, he had good news. This cardiologist could squeeze me in at the end of the month.
My tummy twisted.
In disbelief, I left my doctor’s office with new questions popping into my head, bitter questions like:
If Jesus was never sick, and He never once felt the discomfort from surgery,
how in the world could He relate to what I’m walking through?
I sulked the whole car ride home until I could research more about any pain Jesus may have experienced in His lifetime.
That’s when God painted a vivid picture that I will never forget.
I’m just giving you a heads-up that today’s devotional may be a tad graphic, but I believe these important reminders line Scripture for recovering patients, like you and me.
Think for a minute.
Have you ever imagined the images crossing Jesus’ mind as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, where He visualized his impending crucifixion? If not, take a moment to envision the scene.
Kneeling before His Father, Jesus pleaded for God to take the cup suffering from Him. Why would this description of Christ begging even line our Bible other than the fact that God wanted us to recognize these details?
We all know that Jesus is God.
He had to have known that a multi-tailed whip with shards of metal, hooks, and rough glass fragments would soon lash into his flesh roughly 39 times, removing chunks of skin with each strike.
That a crown of piercing thorns would soon be pressed into his skull until blood dribbled from his head. And, hours later, without any pain medication, He’d hang wounded on a cross from the nails pounded into His wrists, simply to save us from our sin.
There are many messages in this one passage alone, but for today, let’s focus on the impending pain He was about to endure. Can’t you see why Christ begged His Father to take this experience away?
But God didn’t.
Instead of freeing His Son, the Lord performed a tremendous act we should focus on:
He sent an angel to strengthen Jesus before His biggest trial.
Oh, sweet friend, can we just pause right here and focus on the goodness in this verse?
This means that Jesus not only gets our distress, but He empathizes with the struggle we’re currently facing.
Maybe today fear is crippling your mind before your upcoming surgery. If so, please know that God lived through something similar. He gets the pain in your chest from your newly placed port, or your open-heart surgery, or any impending treatment you might encounter.
He feels it.
And right now, He sympathizes with the discomfort you feel.
Not only that, but there’s one more important fact about this Scripture we should consider.
Before the assault on Christ’s body began, a crazy physical phenomenon occurred. So much intensity roiled within Jesus that His body sweat great drops of blood.
Do you see it?
Our Lord had a rare medical reaction from simply foreseeing what was to come. Why would this unappealing scene line the pages of our Bible other than to help us understand the mental, physical, and emotional discomfort He endured before one strike hit His skin?
I believe another reason this verse exists is to show the world that fear is real.
Never, ever let anyone tell you that you shouldn’t feel fear.
It’s unavoidable at times.
The question isn’t do we feel fear, but should we meditate on it?
I don’t know about you, but it brings a tinge of comfort to know that Jesus really did experience human reactions, like this brief taste of trepidation. This means we are not alone. And although He was fully God, He was also fully human who felt the very same emotions we face today.
I have a hunch He modeled this scene for us so we would know what to do when we face similar distress.
Like Jesus, we should weep before the Lord as often as our emotions need the release of pent up pressure. Ridding our bodies of that trapped feeling empties us for a fresh refilling of truth—that God is in our situation.
Let’s end our time together focusing on one of the most powerful points in this passage. After Jesus humbled Himself, He said,
“‘I want your will to be done, not mine.’
Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him.”
This picture in Luke 22 only confirms one vital piece in our spiritual puzzle:
Prayer unleashes God’s power.
Let that soak in.
Just like the Lord sent an angel to empower Jesus right before His most painful experience, He wants to strengthen us, too. What we sometimes don’t see behind the scenes are the heavenly beings released to help in our circumstances when we submit.
And some of them hold our heads upright when we’re too exhausted to do so ourselves.
Precious friend, if God sent an angel to strengthen Jesus when He prayed, what could He do for you?
What did the Lord whisper to you today?
Write a prayer telling Him how you feel:
“Every day we get to choose whether to give the microphone to hope or fear. The choice we make is the life we’ll lead.”
~ Bob Goff
“But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten
so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.”
~ Isaiah 53:5 NLT
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God
what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”
~ Philippians 4:6 NLT
“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will
receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”
~ Hebrews 4:16 NLT
“Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you,
and you will give me glory.”
~ Psalm 50:15 NLT
First of all, thank you for reading. I pray God spoke to you in some way.
Secondly, if this devo was too dark for you, would you let me know?
Lastly, thank you for your prayers. I know my last post was kind of Debbie-downerish at the end, but you guys…I so appreciated your prayers more than you will ever know.
God is good. That’s all I can say. And He always answers when we pray. All these zany things we are facing….I just feel like they’re from the enemy. So I push on, knowing God’s got this. Because He does.
Love this about Him. : )
As always, if you see a typo or a better way to smooth out a sentence you had to read twice, please let me know. I’ll even include you in the acknowledgement section of the final draft of this 30 Day Devotional for the Newly Diagnosed, From a (Former) Professional Patient.
You gals/guys are swell.
In His hands,
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